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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  December 29, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm EST

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let's start with the new york stock exchange. the u.s. and iran seem to be playing this game of chicken over the strait of hormuz, waiting to see who's going to blink first. at issue are these economic sanctions being considered. what is this uncertainty doing to wall street? >> actually, not much of a reaction, not affecting stocks. oil traders not taking this seriously for now. if you ask oil analysts he does not expect iran to follow through on this threat to close the strait of hormuz. iran itself relied so heavily on oil revenue. iran is the fourth biggest oil exporter in the world and it would be blocking its own exports. so something to think about. >> some speculators really appear to be going all out trying to ratchet fear on this issue, saying that gas prices
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could reach $5 a gallon by summer. what's your sense as to how disastrous that would be for the world's economy? >> in the worst case scenario, it doesn't seem so far out of reach. if iran does carry through with its threat, could throw the global economy into a depression, would drive oil prices up to unpredictable levels. he says that consumers wouldn't be able to afford it. you'd see an impact on economic activity. it would really hurt consumers getting hurt in other ways, with housing prices and unemployment so high. these higher gas prices will wind up taking money out of their pockets. money that would be spent on other things. it would be spent on consumer confidence. when you see that gas sign of that gas price, people get scared by paying an extra few dollars at the gas pump, even though in reality, it's not as
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big an impact of getting a good mortgage rate or having a good job. this is the worst case scenario, it's not likely to happen. >> thank you, alison. next, chad myers is in the weather center. chad, fall creating havoc in new orleans. people losing their lives. >> visibility down to a quarter mile. your lights are on, this is what happened, the fog burned off. the interstate closed for many hours near new orleans. look at that mess. people couldn't see the cars stopping ahead of them. it almost looks like an icy wreck that you would expect like in michigan or witness witness. >> it does. >> wear people couldn't stop because the brakes didn't work. but when you can't see and you're still driving fast, the brakes didn't work either, because they weren't putting them on. your visibility was up 3 miles down to a quarter mile in less
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than 100 feet. that's what happened there. what else is happening now? a little bit of light snow in parts of michigan and ohio as well. this snow will get a little more significant on sunday for the midwest. a big rain event. and even snow above 2000 feet. anywhere from northern california right on up to the cascades and the olympics. we're going to see 25 inches of snow above 5,000 feet out west. if you're driving there, that could be the interesting part. there will be a little bit of travel problems today from san francisco because of the ground stop. ft. lauderdale seeing a little bit of departure. if you're heading to new york -- i don't know if you are. mostly clear skies in new york city. it's been a lot colder than that. and the rainy and the snowy, that's never a fun time. new york city a perfect place to be this new year's eve. >> seems a little cold for me. >> living in georgia too long. >> i may be spoiled. chad myers, thank you.
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now we turn our attention to an exclusive report from a reporter in a very dangerous place. the city of homs has been the center of the resistance in syria. the government is tightening its choke hold on the people there. tanks firing at protesters, snipers randomly shooting civilians on the streets. the country is being accused of hiding the real slaughter from peace monitors. one thing our journalists and filmmakers put his life on the line and slipped into that city to get the real story. he's sharing what he found in a cnn exclusive. >> the snipers are on basically every main street. they have checkpoints on both side sides. snipers would shootive who is
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crossing this street between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the morning. this is an unofficial curfew. they told me, i have to meet this woman. this is the mother of the victim who got shot when she was pregnant in the seventh month. it's during the morning when she wants to go out for shopping. >> her brother tried for half an hour to get to the walls and roofs to get to her. he didn't manage to reach her. finally they managed to pull her away. it took another half hour to get her to my house. >> a half hour ago somebody got shot. and 30 minutes later people are crossing very normally the street. me crossing the street, i've been feeling basically, literally i've been feeling that
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somebody's aiming -- the sniper's aiming on me, and it's up to him if he's going to pull the trigger or not. i realized that somebody wanted to cross the street with a huge pack of cigarettes. so i could hear the snipers shooting. and he was -- he wasn't able to cross the street. and the bag was in the middle of the street. so he was again one of the impressive scenes where people have been very happily and almost like a sport challenge to get -- >> we need to cross the street to buy bread and other food. the snipers have surrounded this area, it's a huge danger. >> and they started to throw the bread because they were not able
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to cross. everything they needed on the other side they throw it over the streets. the point of no return has already crossed. the people now, there are no options. they started to uprise and so many blocks -- so many people got killed already. and when they stopped to go out on the streets, the regime's going to come back and they're going to get killed anyway. >> incredible reporting there. $30 billion, that's how much saudi arabia is going to pay the u.s. for high-tech military fighter jets. president obama says this is a good deal and it will save american jobs. and there's no drive through at u.s. immigration for green cards. it can take years to get one. the obama administration is pushing a provision already on the books that allows people overseas to buy one.
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just how much does it cost? trouble on the campaign trail for newt gingrich, but he's been there before. ahead, why he says an elephant saved his campaign. that's ahead. and wait until you see this. a guy got into his suv and yes he slammed into his neighbor's car, not just one or two. he hit five. and that wasn't the only thing he tried to hit. you know organization is key... and so is having a trusted assistant. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go. go national. go like a pro.
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there you go. what is it about taking a first step that we find so compelling? is it because taking a step represents hope? or triumph? at genworth, we believe in taking small steps every day to keep your promises, protect what matters, and prepare for a secure financial future. no matter where you want to go, one step at a time is the only way to get there. go to genworth.com/promises.
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i'm isha sesay in for brooke baldwin. if it's interesting you will see it right now. the united states is selling 84 fighter jets to saudi arabia. the deal comes at a time with
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rising tensions with iran. and the white house says it reinforces the u.s.'s commitment to strong saudi defense. a veteran marine who avoided being wounded in afghanistan and iraq was shot three times during a robbery in south florida. lieutenant colonel shraker managed to plug his own wounds until help arrived. he's doing okay now. >> i haven't been shot mult itch el times in afghanistan, and i'm here in florida ride ago way in an ambulance with a bunch of gunshot wounds. >> he's expected to make a full recovery. prosecutors are preparing the first criminal charges against bp employees stemming from the deepwater horizon explosion in 2010. they got the information from
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people familiar with the matter. they're focusing on whether bp engineers gave false statements about the risks associated with the drilling. here's a question, why would anyone bring a gun to one of the most secure sites in new york city is it the 9/11 memorial? a tourist from tennessee thought it was okay to ask the cop if she could check her weapon. she didn't realize a loaded pistol in her purse would be a problem. the woman posted bond after she was locked up on a weapon's possession charge. a crazy scene in centennial colorado to show you. this is no accident. it's some guy going on a rampage trying to find cars to run into. he totalled one car and hit five others and even tried to hit a few pedestrians. fortunately nobody was hurt. the suspect is in jail on $50,000 bond. saturday night, millions of people will be in times square new york city for the big new
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year's eve celebration. the huge ball that drops at midnight has been secured into place with its more than 30,000 lights. also, the city just dropped test confetti on times square this afternoon. they're testing the air to make sure it's safe when one ton is dropped on new year's eve. remember, anderson cooper will be live from times square along with kathy griffin. we'll be there new year's eve starting at 11:00 p.m. eastern it's all here on cnn you won't want to miss it. another american dead in mexico. this time a young man's body was found in the trunk of a car after the car was set on fire. this after three americans were killed last week. are americans now being targeted? rapheal romo is following that story. he joins us next.
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again, a horrible act of violence against an american traveling in mexico. this time a chicago teenager visiting his grandmother on mexico's west coast ends up in a car trunk, the car torched. >> reporter: daniela remembers her cousin as a full of life 18-year-old. >> always smiling, happy. he enjoyed life. >> reporter: she says the high school senior played football and was involved in gymnastics at their high school. they were often together. he took a holiday trip to the mexican stage of michoacan, a
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vacation that would be his last. >> he wanted to go see my grandma and aunts and uncles over there. we used to go out together but this time he went alone. >> reporter: the body of alexis moron was found in the trunk of a car burned to the shell. also in the car, the badly charred remains of two other mexican men, his friends. back in rolling m ining meadows illinois, close friends and family members can't understand why someone would want to kill him in such a brutal way. >> he was always hon west everyone, had that great smile. he was warm hearted. this shouldn't have happened. >> a memorial page on facebook has been set up and they're organizing a memorial at their high school. >> no one would ever deserve
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this. the way he went is just so horrible, i couldn't even believe it. when someone told me that, i thought it was a joke. >> rapheal joins us now to talk more about this. yesterday we were talking about three americans killed. that was in veracruz. we're talking about a different state now, but another american found dead. i'm going to ask you a question that some at home are considering. as you've looked into these cases are americans being targeted? >> there's no indication whatsoever that they were killed because they were americans. the first case you're talking about, a mother and two daughters shot in the state of veracruz, it was a random robbery. they were travel informing a bus, and attackers targeted that bus. in this second case it doesn't appear to be a targeting of this particular young man. he was with two other friends who were mexican nationals, so he was not individually targeted
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because he was american. >> what's the latest you're hearing about the investigation? >> i spoke with the mexican state attorney's office this morning, they're conducting an investigation, there are no suspects, no arrests yet. they continue the investigation, and they hope to come up with something very soon. >> we've talked about this offcamera. the rate of successful prosecution in mexico of these kinds of cases. do they have the means, are they successful? >> not terribly successful, no. a prosecution that is completed and conviction in mexico is less than 10%, so it is not the greatest in the world. having said that, the amount of federal forces that have been deployed to these parts of mexico, i'm talking the state of veracruz is considered and around the country, you find about 50,000 troops that are doing law enforcement activities, so the response is great. security has been increased in
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those two states, especially in this situation. >> what is the guidance for people from the u.s. traveling to mexico. >> there is an emergency alert posted saying nonessential travel to border states should be avoided as much as people can. >> appreciate it. two days running some really gruesome acts of violence. we appreciate the analysis and your working these stories for us. thank you. to politics next, you often here, it's a candidate's organization on the ground that's key on winning caucuses. ron paul has a lot of boots on the ground in iowa. for his volunteers, it's not just knock on doors and answering phones there, are rules. no problem. you want to save money on rv insurance? no problem. you want to save money on motorcycle insurance? no problem. you want to find a place to park all these things?
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hundreds of college students are hitting the pavement in iowa. according to the new york times, they're under strict orders to shave their beards and cover their tattoos, it's all part of their strategy to get ron paul nominated. candy crowley joins me now live from des moines. let's get this straight, cover your tattoos, groom your facial hair, don't tweet or facebook while you're in iowa. what's the strategy? >> fit in. these are young people who come in from out of state. let me give you one statistic that may clarify why this is necessary. in the last republican caucus four years ago, almost 75% of the folks that went to the republican caucuses were 45 years or older. you're talking about an older demographic that needs to be
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convinced to vote for one candidate or the other. and then you have these young folks out there supporting ron paul. they knock on people's doors and say, hey, are you going to the caucuses, would you consider voting for ron paul? here's why i think you should? you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. what they're doing is saying, if you come to with a wash fit in here. you know, you can't have a threatening person or someone that is perceived as being threatening coming to your door, because you're not going to listen to them. they're not going to be prone to listen to what they have to say. so this is about molding into the population here, particularly the population that's likely to go and vote on caucus night. >> we've seen ron paul's numbers on the rise. are young people his secret weapon? >> sure, well, first of all because there are -- he does poll very well demographically among young republicans, but they've also got the energy to go from door to door.
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they are new to politics, just the excitement level, the adrenaline level is higher, some of them don't have day jobs, they're college students and so they can work monday through next tuesday trying to get folks out to the polls. they are a not so secret weapon. >> hearing you talk about young people descending on iowa brings to mind it's been pointed out the organization of candidate obama four years ago, and how young people descended on iowa again then. what's your sense in terms of the operation and the similarities and differences between the two? >> well, it's a different group of college students. these are not two candidates that necessarily believe the same things, but they are brought to the fold by an idealism in the ron paul campaign as well as they did in barack obama's campaign. and let me make one more analogy. and that is to howard dean, who was a huge favorite among young
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voters. who also carted busloads of people in to help him in the weeks leading up to the caucuses. and part of the reason you're seeing ron paul say fit in here, don't let who you you are get in the way of what the message is, is that there was a lot of criticism about howard dean's iming ports into iowa. they didn't -- iowans took offense to other people telling them what do think or how they went about it. it's important to coral this group, they do tend to be idealistic and energetic. two things you you want in your campaign. >> idealistic and energetic, but it's also a case of managing that energy. candy crowley joining us -- >> always. >> thank you. let's take a closer look at the numbers from the latest poll that we're telling you you about. let's look at those numbers because just to bring the point home, romney on top as you see
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there. paul close behind and rick santorum, that's been the big talking point. the fact that rick santorum has made his way into third place. surged into third, gingrich is plummeting as he falls behind them. there had been all this talk about romney, paul and gingrich in the upper echelon. and now he's overtaken by santorum, of course. perry, bachman and huntsman in that second tier. hunts man will be in the situation room in about 30 minutes. as you saw, mitt romney is leading the field in iowa's gop race and he's feeling pretty good about it. we go to des moines, what's he saying, peter? >> reporter: mitt romney has been barnstorming the state, this is a state he did not try to compete in for a long time. and his staff was under the radar, he's drawing big crowds around the state. mitt romney really has a bounce in the step as he shakes hands around the state. he was asked today, if you come
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in second here in iowa, in the caucuses, is that a win? and romney's simple answer was no. so basically they're all in here in iowa. certainly democrats want to raise expectations for romney, because anything less than a win for him would be damaging to his candidacy. the romney people are running television ads, they're going to be here on caucus night, which is something they did not do four years ago when he lost here. so it's looking good for romney as our poll showed today. >> it's looking good for romney, any foreseeable bumps in the road? >> bumps in the road again for him, if ron paul can win that's fine for romney. paul has been expected to do well here. a bump in the road might be if santorum can capitalize on this mow people item. it may seem unlikely because he doesn't have the money and institutional support that romtny does. if social conserve fishes look
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at rick santorum's climb in the polls, he's up to 16% from single digits not too long ago. they say, this is our guy. social conservatives have been looking for someone to unite behind. they haven't been able to. the media is going to focus on this new surge for rick santorum, some of these bachman supporters, perhaps, supporters of rick perry may peel off. gingrich has also collapsed. it's an open secret that they think he might even slip to fourth or fifth place which will be seriously damaging to his candidacy. we'll see if santorum can put together the organization and some fv ads this week, and defend himself from pend ago tacks. his rivals are already criticizing him now that he's jumped up on the polls. >> i want to focus in on that, rick perry is among them. he's not kindly to santorum's rise in the numbers? >> not at all.
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he was very quick to turn this around after yesterday's poll numbers. take a listen to this radio ad they just popped today. this is the perry campaign taking a shot at rick santorum. >> who personally demanded more than $1 billion of earmarks in his 16 years in congress? >> rick santorum? >> right. santorum grabbed for a billion in earmarks until voters kicked him out of office in a landslide. >> sort of a game show themed radio ad that's running out here from the perry campaign. basically trying to paint santorum as a washington insider. no one's laid a glove on santorum the enfire time he's been out here because he hasn't caught on. now that he's bubbling up, his rivalries are going to take some swipes at him. i bet we'll see attacks hit him in the mail. maybe some tv attacks, it's already starting. and rick santorum has to fend off these attacks, does he have the money and organization to do
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so? that remains an open question, isha. >> thank you. did you know you can buy a green card? it's not cheap, but it is possible. for many, it takes months and even years to get one. how much will it cost you? maybe you've forgotten about that giant bp oil spill in the gulf in 2010. u.s. attorneys haven't. we'll tell about you the possibility of criminal charges being filed for the spill.
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it's billed as a way to create american jobs. wellthy immigrants investing in the u.s. in schiexchange for a n card. it's perfectly legal, and in fact the u.s. government encourages it. >> reporter: it's that time of year, everyone at jay peak resort in vermont is gearing up for the ski season. but for bill stanner, the snow is not enough to make a business. he's hard at work transforming the winter resort into a year round facility, building a golf course, a water park and an indoor ice rink. >> without sustained year round operations, you can't survive. you must be a 12-month a year operation. you. >> can see the snow guns over there from here. >> reporter: he needed about
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$250 million to expand. the banks wanted 30% down. money he did not have. >> if you don't have capital, you can't make things happen. >> instead, using a federal program, stanger got the money from rich immigrant s willing t invest $500,000 each in exchange for a green card for them and their families. >> we have over 500 investors from 56 countries. >> reporter: among them, this couple. these are the permanent green cards now? >> these are the permanent green cards. >> reporter: bular is an indian engineer. he decided to switch countries and careers, and became a mystic teaching enlightenment. >> i made up my mind, i come here and the only option available at that time was the investor route. >> the 20-year-old program known as eb-5 has brought in about $2 billion in investments.
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and has been promoted by the obama administration as a way to create jobs. critics like david north who supports strict limits on immigration says this amounts to selling green cards on the cheap. >> if we are going to be selling visa's for money, i think we should be selling a lot more rather than scattering around for these developers who figured out how to get money from the aliens. >> reporter: tell that to bill stanger p.m. >> a conference center, retail shops. >> reporter: eager to show us around, and boasts of the impact on the local economy. >> hundreds and hundreds of new full time jobs being created as a result of these facilities. >> reporter: locals also are happy for the foreign investment. brad quinton has been able to stay put and raise his family here. >> before this started, i was traveling two, three, four hours to work to connecticut and new hampshire. >> reporter: and now year-round employee alex says the pros
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outweigh the cons. >> we're looking at a few thousand people coming in and creating a whole bunch of jobs for those of us that need them quite badly. >> the rules are, that investors must show they've created at least ten jobs and can only pull their money out after four years, if a business falls they would lose their money. getting a green card is no guarantee of getting citizenship. there are 10,000 of these special visas up for grabs every year, but far fewer applicants. was the bp oil spill a crime? a report out this afternoon says federal prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges over the spill. we're going to explain what those charges are and who's in jeopardy. and who is president obama most afraid of facing in the general election. you know he's not going to say, but wait until you hear how the republican candidates are answering that question. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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remember when you got so mad seeing pictures like this? this was april 2010. bp's broken oil rig was spewing masses of black smoke into the air. remember watching the underwater cameras day after day? we all did. giving us that fish eye's view as more than 200 million gallons of oil gurgled into the gulf? remember the wildlife? saturated with oil? remember 11 workers lost their
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lives. i'm reminding of you of all this because now the first potential criminal charges are being prepared against bp. the fed is focusing on whether bp engineers including a supervisor provided false information to regulators. i want to bring in lisa bloom an attorney in l.a., great to have you with us. give me your perspective on the severity of these charges. >> this is a tantalizing insight into what may be going on. these are relatively minor charges just making false statements to federal regulators against aparentally a small group of people, engineers and supervisors. what this says to me, is that there may be a broader investigation going on. 11 people lost their lives. this was the worst oil spill in u.s. history. the consequences were catastrophic, and i would seriously doubt there would be an investigation on charges just this small. this may be an attempt to put
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pressure on some of the smaller fish against the bigger fish and go after the higherups for the devastating consequences of this spill. >> talk to me about what would be happening right now. what would they be considering in terms of not just this case, but possibly again -- and these charges haven't been filed yet. this is what we're hearing from the wall street journal. what they're considering in terms of extending the net. >> the way the prosecutors operate, and it's perfectly legal and normal, goes on every day, to put pressure on the lower level people. for example, the prosecutors could be saying to them, we believe that you you lied to us. we have evidence that you lied to us, who are you you protecting? we will give you immunity if you will testify against somebody who's more important and more significant in the investigation. if we can bring down people on the bigger charges, that's the way our system operates. as i say, i doubt this is the end of the story. my sense is, this is just the
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beginning. >> some people will be saying, okay, slap them with a fine, what is this really going to achieve in terms of regular layeding the industry and making sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again? >> regulating the industry is important. and we as americans often say, there's too much regulation. to protect the environment, to protect people's lives. it's important that people within these enormous corporations tell the truth to regulators, so that regulators can know what's going on, and stop devastating consequences as what happened with the bp oil spill. it's important that people tell the truth, and they be prosecuted if they don't tell the truth. that alone is significant and it's a crime, and they will be prosecuted if they lie. lives could have been saved. this entire disaster could have been averted if there had been more regulation. >> you're an attorney, how easy, how difficult is it for the government in this case? >> well, these false statement
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cases are not difficult to win. after all, this is the kind of case that brought down scooter libby and martha stewart years ago. all you have to prove is that a statement was made, usually it's recorded, it's underoath or there's a written transcript, it's made in writing to begin with. and that the statement was knowingly made to be false. and can you do that by showing other statements that were made to the contrary, showing document that is were red. it's not that difficult to prove compared to other crimes. >> bp, of course, not just potentially facing this from prosecutors, but also nose other cases being sued by local resident notice gulf coast? >> yes, there are many thousands of lawsuits that were filed against bp. now, if those cases are successful and surely many of them will be, what they'll result in is the payment of money damages. criminal charges are much more serious, people are looking at jail time if they violated the law. on these false statement charges it's generally somewhere between
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probation and five years. if it's a first time offender we're probably talking about probati probation. these particular charges are not going to lead to any significant sentencing. >> all right, we'll continue to follow all of this. great to speak to you today. thanks for joining us from l.a. >> thank you. the inspiring story of a young man who became a star in his hometown. his life may have ended but he left his fans and family quite a gift. and a former u.s. marine held in an iranian prison. he told a judge he's a u.s. spy. his mother said that's not true. score did not go bad ♪ ♪ with a free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ app that he had ♪ downloaded it in the himalayas ♪ ♪ while meditating like a true playa ♪ ♪ now when he's surfing down in chile'a ♪ ♪ he can see when his score is in danger ♪ ♪ if you're a mobile type on the go ♪ ♪ i suggest you take a tip from my bro ♪ ♪ and download the app that lets you know ♪ ♪ at free-credit-score-dot-com now let's go. ♪ vo: offer applies with enrollment in
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part of the internet universe is mourning the death of a texas teen who shared his remarkable story with tens of thousands of viewers. ben breedlove of austin died christmas night, but he may have left the world a brighter place. the story from kxan. >> thanks for watching breedlove tv on casual wednesday. >> for the last two years, ben breedlove has built a following online. >> i thought it would be cool if i gave you creative ideas to ask someone -- >> youtube videos full of dating advice. >> tonight we're going to be going over what age is the best
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age to start dating. it could be anything from a birthday, christmas. >> girls from germany and australia would message him and ask him for advice. girls in town would treat him like a celebrity. >> reporter: ben also spoke candidly about the heart condition he was born with. >> the doctor said since he was young, he would not make it past his young teen years, and he beat that. >> reporter: on christmas day at the age of 18 his time came. >> we woke up really early at 8:00, and opened presents and played a game of monopoly that ben won. he -- when he laid down outside he was using his new video camera out there with jake, and it was a really good christmas. and we realized that ben got the
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best christmas gift out of all of us. he got the gift that everyone is going to get some day. >> there was one gift from ben his family didn't a youtube video ben posted one week before he died without saying a word, he described to the world how he'd cheated death three times. at the age of 4 after a seizure, he saw a bright light above him. he also shared an interesting vision while paramedics were reviving him this month while wearing a white suit with his favorite rapper. he was looking in a mirror, smiling and was proud of his life and said he wished he never woke up. he ended with this. ♪
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>> i just think ben opened a door for a lot of people to think about something that maybe they've never thought about before and that, to me, is a wonderful gift. >> well, ben's parents will appear on cnn's "outfront" tonight. the mother of a former u.s. marine on trial in iran says her son isn't a spy for the cia and she and the rest of his family are worried about his well being. his mother says anything he supposedly confessed to was coerced. the news agency reports he told the judge he worked for the cia and that he was to get paid for delivering information. said he was trying to infiltrate intelligence with accusing iran of being involved in terrorist activities. the u.s. says the allegations
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are false. it hasn't been an easy ride for any of the republican candidates for president. right now, they're out filgting for every vote in next week's contest. newt gingrich may be down today, but we got a little insight as to why he says his candidacy has survived. it's an elephant. we'll explain in our "political pop." that's next. is it because taking a step represents hope? or triumph? at genworth, we believe in taking small steps every day to keep your promises, protect what matters, and prepare for a secure financial future. no matter where you want to go, one step at a time is the only way to get there. go to genworth.com/promises.
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wolf blitzer has a packed show with interviews today with jon huntsman and michele
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bachmann. he joins us for a preview. >> thanks very much. jon huntsman, he's not even running in iowa. has only made one appearance there in all of these months, so forget about iowa and jon huntsman. he's spending his time in new hampshire and he's moving up in the polls. what does he have to do this new hampshire in order to continue on to south carolina, florida, nevada and the rest of these primaries. michele bachmann, she's got her own problems in iowa right now. not doing that great. she had been doing fabulously well in august when she won the iowa straw poll. since then, it's been all downhill. and she just lost one of her key supporters in iowa over to ron paul. all of these republican candidates are having problems with ron paul. they're going after him on national security issues, but it's interesting. even though they think he could be dangerous to the national security of the united states, some of them are still saying
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they would rather vote for him if he were to get the republican nomination, than president obama. good stuff coming up right here in "the situation room." >> yeah, a lot of really good stuff. i want to go back to michele bachmann and the fact she is really, she's come to a standstill in the polls. why do you think that is, wolf? >> it's a good question because you would think in iowa, she was born in iowa. she represents a congressional district in neighboring minnesota. she spent a lot of time there on the social issues, the religious issue. certainly on the economic issues. the conservative agenda. if you will. she's right there with a lot of these people in iowa. i just came back myself from a few days in iowa and you would think she would be doing better, but for some reason, she hasn't clicked on. having said that, still five days to go and one of the impressions i got from speaking with a lot of these likely republican caucusgoers, that even though they have preferences right now, they haven't completely made up their
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mind. they're willing to change in these final few days and even as they go into the caucuses and spend two, three hours listening to their friends, they might still be open to changes. this is a hard one to predict. it's not like just going into a booth, pulling a lever. you've got to really make a commitment and others will lobby you. your friends will see who you're going to vote for. it's totally different kind of situation in iowa and it's one that we'll be covering obviously non-stop between now and then. >> and we'll all be watching. thank you, wolf. newt gingrich got through tough times thanks to a cartoon elephant. yes, you heard right. joe johns joins me now from iowa. joe, try explaining that one. >> well, the long and short of it is that callista gingrich, who happens to be the wife of newt gingrich, the presidential candidate, wrote a children's
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book and this children's book has a character in it. it's called ellis is elephant. the elephant sort of travels through key moments in american history, pops up and sort of tells the story to children. well, during the darkest days of newt gingrich's campaign, which wasn't too long ago when a lot of people had given him up for dead, gingrich has now told "the new york times" magazine that this elephant actually gave him and his campaign a lot of hope during those dark days. some of the publications have really picked up on that and talked a bit about ellis is f l elephant and whether he's a stand-in for newt gingrich. newt gingrich in fact has placed himself in history by sort of comparing thoims some of the great figures in world history. and not much more to say about it than that, but it's a fascinating look at newt
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gingrich, callista and their book, "sweet land of liberty." >> let's talk about what some of the gop candidates are saying about the president. some saying that the president's actually zared about them. who's doing the big talking? >> right. fascinating today. rick santorum was just the very latest of the candidates to say that president obama is actually scared of him and the possibility that he might become the republican nominee. there have been some others who said that as well. we sort of put together a number of those little l sound bites. >> i think the obama administration fears us the most and does their best to ignore us the best they can. >> they want to put it the primary to anybody but me. >> the president of the united states is threatened by my candidacy. he fears me. >> so, obviously, we had to ask some of the

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